“The more they play, the better they get,” said Brian Carter, coach of the senior girls’ basketball team at Elmira District Secondary School.
And that has rung true this season. The girls are currently sitting at 7-0, undefeated and tied for first place in the Waterloo County Secondary School Athletic Association with Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School.
That’s a big difference from last year’s performance.
“Our record was almost opposite. I think we were 4-7,” said the coach of almost 15 years at EDSS.
A larger roster and another year’s experience have helped, Carter posited.
“The last few years we have only had six or seven players on our team, it has been tough, and having 11 girls on the team you can practice 5-on-5 and you just learn more. We have more productive practices than we have had in the past,” he explained. “And I didn’t think they did, but they listened in Grade 11 and they took those lessons from Grade 11 and they applied them here in Grade 12. And the Grade 12s took them and applied them in their fifth year, and it really helps.
“It is nice to see the growth,” he added. “It is good to see them winning. As much as I enjoy seeing them winning, I like to see that they are playing better basketball and that they are learning. They are getting better every game, which is fantastic.”
The returning core of ball players are fifth years Cobi Morris and Mickayla Weber and seniors Jackie Wideman, Natalie Mayer and Samantha Martin. Among the new additions who have helped round out the roster Grade 11s Kodylyn Tanner, Kara Martin, Heidi Shantz and Nathalie Hilbert.
“And then Delanie Kidnie and Mackenzie Martin have never played basketball before and they just came out and are doing great,” added the coach.
Although the girls agree that more numbers have helped with their success, they credit a shift in attitude on the court.
“I think everyone just actually enjoys playing, which really makes a difference,” explained Morris.
“We all have a good bond together, we are all pretty close,” added Mayer.
Mayer has been the leading scorer of every game this season except for one that she missed. The Grade 12 student has been a clear leader on the court in more ways than one.
“I think Natalie is the funny one (on the court),” explained Morris. “I find that she is always that person who, before anyone else, if you make that shot, you miss that shot, you foul someone, you get fouled, she is always the first person to come up and say, ‘hey, it’s okay, good shot, whatever, you can get it next time.’ She is always that person.”
However, Carter explains that the same can be said of many of the teammates.
“They are all just great girls.”
Looking forward the current first place seed has high aspirations for the rest of the season.
“We are well aware that the second half of our schedule is much tougher than the first half of the schedule, but we would definitely like to get a top-eight playoff seeding and get a home playoff game,” the coach explained. “I think our expectation is definitely that we get into the quarter-finals, and then once we get into the quarter-finals I think it will be anybody’s game out there. You never know, semi-finals are not out of the question this year.”
The team will be facing off against rivals Waterloo-Oxford today (Thursday) at the Battle of the Barns. And next week, both junior and senior teams will be hosting their tournament at home.